Lesson 1 Thy Word Is Truth

“EVERYONE THAT IS OF THE TRUTH HEARETH MY VOICE,” said the Lord Jesus before the Roman governor. “Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth?” (John 18:37-38). There is little value, in a lasting sense, of studying anything if we believe that (1) there is no such thing as truth, or (2) truth is always changing, or (3) it is impossible to know truth with any certainty.

Truth has been defined as: conforming to fact or reality; being in accord with what is, has been, or must be; it is the opposite of false, wrong, error or lie. Truth is narrow and unchanging, regardless of history and culture; it is absolute and independent of anything else. To believe otherwise is destructive to both learning and morals.

The Search for Truth

The Psalmist cried out, “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me” (Psalm 25:5). He believed that this truth is forever
(Psalm 117:2). Because it is so precious, we are advised, “Buy the truth, and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23). The prophet spoke of “the God of Truth” (Isaiah 65:16). The Lord Jesus said, “I am … the truth” (John 14:6) and “thy Word is truth” (John 17:17).

It would seem that all men would wish to “come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Yet we are told that mankind generally has “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25 NASB). Those who say they are truth-seekers often do not love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10). They rather seek their own way, and that way is a path of error. But Jesus promised to true seekers, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Men need to know the truth about God, about life, about eternity.

The Source of Truth

Where shall we seek the truth? Some seek it within themselves. They believe their own reason, emotions and desires are a sufficient guide. Some seek it among themselves. They look to the advice, experiences and teaching of other persons. Some seek it beyond themselves. They believe that truth is greater than our own limited ability as men to understand. It requires the help of God or a supernatural power.

The act of God in communicating certain things which we could not know otherwise is called revelation. The act of guiding men to write down a communication of the truth He wishes to reveal is called inspiration. The claim that God did exactly that, in giving us the 66 books of the Bible, is made by the prophets, the apostles and by Jesus Christ Himself.

It is called both the “Scripture” and the “Scriptures” (Mark 12:10; Mark 12:24), meaning that these are sacred writings. We call these collected writings the Bible, meaning “the Book”—signifying its place above all other books. These writings are further called “the Word of God” (Mark 7:13; Romans 10:17; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 4:12).

Such expressions as “God said,” “the Lord spoke” and “the Word of the Lord came” occur perhaps 3,000 times in the Old Testament alone. God is represented as speaking directly on many occasions (Exodus 24:12;
Deuteronomy 10:1-2). The writers of Scripture said that God was giving His words through them to men. Consider these statements by holy men of God:

Moses: “And God said”; “the Lord said” (Exodus 3:14-15; Deuteronomy

1:42)

Joshua: “The Lord spake” (Joshua 1:1)

Jeremiah: “The Lord said”; “saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:7-9)

Ezekiel: “He said unto me” (Ezekiel 3:4)

Malachi: “Thus saith the Lord” (25 times)

Jesus: “All [will] be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18, speaking of the Old Testament Law)

“The commandment of God” (Mark 7:8, speaking of the Old Testament Law)

“It is written” (John 6:45, speaking of the Old Testament Prophets) “They have Moses and the Prophets” (Luke 16:29-31) “Written in the law … the prophets … the psalms” (Luke 24:44)

The Apostles: “Holy Spirit foretold” (Acts 1:16 NASB) “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke” (Acts 28:25 NASB)

Comprehensive statements are made. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB, marginal reading). “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). “Not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth” (1 Corinthians 2:13).

The Sign of Truth

The following considerations give evidence that the preceding statements are true:

1. Those who claimed to be inspired were of the highest moral and spiritual character. Who would accuse Moses, Paul, Isaiah, or even the Lord Jesus of being men of questionable character?

2. The Bible has a profound unity of teaching in spite of having been written by over 40 different men over a period of 1500 years. How else could we account for this unity?

3. The multitude of historical statements in the Scriptures have spurred volumes on archaeological confirmation of its truth. There is extensive support for statements dealing with historic events and persons.

4. The book has endured in its publication, distribution and world impact as the most important volume ever written. Yet it has been more extensively attacked than any other book, surviving many efforts to destroy every copy.

What other book has sustained such criticism while continuing to be a best seller year after year?

5. It continues to have a transforming power in changing lives even today. Violent criminals as well as gentle people are touched and changed by its message. Millions have been given hope, comfort and encouragement in their darkest hours. What other book has changed so many lives for the better?

6. Detailed prophecies have been fulfilled by the hundreds. Where else do we find a prophetic record with one hundred per cent accuracy in every detail?

Great issues of life and eternity have challenged the minds of great men. They are defined and explained in Scripture. These lessons are designed to help the reader understand exactly what the Bible teaches on the subjects of God, man, sin, salvation, eternity and Jesus Christ. It is important to learn what the Bible really says before we decide whether we agree or disagree. Jesus said the errors of even the religious leaders of His day were due to the fact that they did not know the Scriptures (Matthew 22:29). Daniel said that these were “the Scripture[s] of truth” (Daniel 10:21). Do you know the truth?

Study Guide Thy Word Is Truth

Man has a longing for knowledge and truth. Many sources available to him, however, are not reliable. The Bible claims to be God’s truth revealed to man.

1. Which of the following statements most accurately describes the Biblical concept of truth? (select one)

a. There is no such thing as truth.

b. Truth is always changing.

c. It is impossible to know truth with any certainty.

d. Truth is absolute and knowable.

2. Prior to the birth of Christ, how did God communicate truth to man (Hebrews 1:1)?

What built-in proof did God use to confirm that the prophets were speaking the truth (Deuteronomy 18:22)?

What did the prophets indicate about the origin of their words?

3. What is God’s ultimate means of communicating truth (Hebrews 1:2; Matthew 17:5)? What did Jesus say about truth (John 14:6; John 17:17)?

4. How did Jesus affirm the authority of the writers of the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:44)?

What attitude did He take toward the following Old Testament events? Creation of Adam and Eve (Mark 10:6) Jonah and the fish (Matthew 12:39-40) Noah and the ark (Matthew 24:37-39)

5. Why is it inconsistent to say that we accept the teaching of Jesus, yet reject the teachings of other parts of the Bible, such as Genesis (John 5:46-47)?

6. The New Testament writers recorded the words and teaching of Jesus. What attitude did they have about the authority of what they wrote (1 Corinthians 11:23; 2 Peter 1:16-21)?

7. What was one of the greatest errors of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day (Matthew 22:29)?

8. Paraphrase (rewrite in your own words) 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

What is one of the best reasons to study the Bible (John 5:39 NASB)?

9. What do you say? Place a circle around the letter of each statement that best reflects your feelings about the Bible:

a. I believe the Bible is God’s Word to man, and although written by many different men over a period of many years, it is error-free in its original writing and is reliable and trustworthy both in historical fact and in doctrinal statement.

b. I believe that only the words of Jesus in the Bible are inspired.

c. I believe that many of the stories in the Bible, such as Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark are not meant to be taken literally, but still have meaning for teaching.

d. I believe that the Bible contains many contradictions.

e. I believe that the Bible contains all I need to know about God, life and the hereafter.

f. I believe that the Bible has many good moral teachings but is not absolute truth.

g. The truth of the Bible is for every generation, every culture, every race.

10. What do others say? Contact at least three people this week and ask them the following questions. You may wish to say something like the following:

“I’m involved in a Bible Survey here in (name city). Could you help me by sharing your opinion on three important questions? (1) If you were God, and wanted to communicate to man, how would you do it? (2) Furthermore, how would you convince man that this was really your communication? (3) If someone would prove to you that the Bible was really true, would you be willing to conform your life to its moral teachings? Thank you so much for your help. Would you like for me to mail/e-mail you a copy of the survey results? Thank you.”

Record their names and addresses on the 3x5 cards provided by the class leader. Record the answers on the back, indicating if survey results are desired. Then return the cards next class meeting. Results of the survey will be tabulated by the class leader and mailed to each person indicating an interest.